Those of you who have read my blog will know that I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The rest of you might not have known that, and might be surprised (or not so surprised) to learn it.
I was diagnosed about two years ago. I’d been through a lengthy battle with depression and anxiety from the age of 13, then I experienced what I would later learn was a manic episode in November 2014. During the process of being diagnosed, I was asked to map out my long-lasting general moods over the previous couple of years and it then emerged that there were patterns of highs and lows. In the August before my being diagnosed I had broken up with my long term boyfriend and was very low at the time. Almost immediately following, I felt bubbly, excitable, overly confident, energetic. In that time, my spending also increased massively, I lost a lot of weight because I rarely felt hungry, I suffered from bad insomnia and I also started drinking a lot and subsequently (stupidly) ended up mixing prescription drugs with alcohol. I had some dramatic lows in the couple of months following, but by October I was really enjoying life – full of energy, driven, excited, sociable – and I was doing 3 jobs, whilst also volunteering and decorating cakes alongside. Things generally felt pretty good.
Then in November I suddenly couldn’t cope. I became incredibly anxious and started having big panic attacks daily. I worked in retail, and it reached the point where I had to leave my job without notice (with understanding from my boss) because every time I went out onto the shop floor I had a full-blown panic attack. Soon after, I resigned from my job in the church and quickly began withdrawing myself. The anxiety worsened, as did the panic attacks. There were times when I felt almost like I wasn’t in my own body (it sounds really bizarre, I know – but, really, what in all of this doesn’t sound strange?), and I felt completely out of the driver’s seat. I also experienced sensory hypersensitivity, which is where all my senses felt like they were being overloaded with information constantly. I spent most of my time either absolutely terrified or dosed up on diazepam/anti-depressants/alcohol (would not recommend). I ended up completely overwhelmed and struggling to do day-to-day things. That’s when my mum (my wonderful, wonderful mum) took me to see my doctor and I got a referral to Time to Talk. Time to Talk quickly decided that I was a bit beyond their expertise and referred me to see a consultant psychiatrist with our local community mental health team, who diagnosed me with bipolar disorder.
The past couple of years have had their ups and downs, but at least I (and those around me) know what I (we) are dealing with. I’ve had a huge amount of support from those around me, from my family and friends. I really can’t thank them enough for all their constant love, encouragement and patience, especially when I’ve been at my very worst.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the embarrassment and, sometimes, shame that follows me around alongside my diagnosis. I passionately believe that we should try to always see the absolute best in other people, to forgive quickly. I’m not great at doing that always, but I’m not great at giving myself the same treatment either. I don’t give people the chance to let me feel unashamed, because I don’t talk about it. I also passionately believe that mental illness isn’t anything to feel ashamed about. I’m sorry for not living that out in my own life. I promise to try to be better at it in the future, but here’s my step for now.
If you’d like to learn more about bipolar disorder, follow the links below, or (better yet) drop me a message and I’d be more than happy to tell you all about my quirks!
Mind | About Bipolar Disorder http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/bipolar-disorder/#.WN2N57GZOi4
Bipolar UK | What is bipolar? https://www.bipolaruk.org/Pages/FAQs/Category/what-is-bipolar
NHS Choices | Bipolar Disorder http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Bipolar-disorder/Pages/Introduction.aspx